Applying lean UX to product design

The process of building an internal leaning platform that solved a real business problem.

Team

Almo Mitchell (Product Designer, Project Lead)

Holly Matthews (Product Delivery Manager)

Vanessa Jarmillo (Web Designer)

Problem

Ve is an industry-leading marketing and advertising tech company with offices around the world.

In the past, Ve has struggled to provide staff with adequate information about their products and services. A lack of communication between departments meant important knowledge was not fully understood.

The ‘Product Portal’ was used to share information on products, their features and any bugs, fixes, updates and new releases. However, it was hardly used, badly structured, difficult to navigate and lacking the key product information required by teams.

The product updates page from the original Product Portal

A new and improved platform was needed, where key information about products and services could be easy to access and understand. Categories had to be structured logically, with intuitive navigation and search functionality that would deliver an engaging user experience for new and existing employees.

Design Process

After receiving the brief, initial research into the existing Product Portal helped me discover the problem. This knowledge was used as a starting point of conversation for a kick-off meeting with the stakeholders, where the project scope was outlined, along with any upfront risks and technical constraints. Following this conversation, a detailed project plan with a list of activities and timeframes was created to ensure any output of work aligned with business goals.

A series of ‘how-might-we’ questions were written on post-it notes. These questions were used to make sense of the key pain points that came from the stakeholder meeting. By grouping similar questions into themes with an affinity map, assumptions could be made about users and their behaviours. Building personas and drawing user flows helped understand how people navigated through the platform to perform tasks, and where potential problems could arise.

Affinity map of HMW questions that were prioritised based on business objectives

User research with individuals from a variety of departments in territories across the globe gave me a true understanding of how people were interacting with Product Portal. The conversations validated some assumptions whilst disproving others, and even unearthed many deeper issues and workarounds that hadn’t previously been thought about. These new learnings helped discover real user pain points that were aligned and prioritised with business objectives. From here I was able to define the walking skeleton of an MVP, with a list of ‘must haves’ vs ‘nice to haves’.

With a greater depth of knowledge for the project, the problem statement was redefined, with job stories and hypothesis statements built around it.

I worked on low fidelity sketches so that I could quickly develop initial ideas and start gathering instant feedback before investing time into high-fidelity designs. Navigation was an area we had to get right to ensure a good user experience, so, after numerous rounds of testing and iteration, I landed on the idea of an expandable side menu. This allowed for quick navigation through text-heavy pages with anchor links, significantly reducing search time. In addition to this, a search bar was added so users can look for suggestions based on keywords.

Sketches of a new product updates page that came from a design studio workshop

One area of the project that was kept on being brought up during the discovery research was the importance of communicating product updates. To get it right, I ran a design studio with a cross-functional team from a variety of departments. A series of sketching exercises were carried out by each participant, allowing for rapid ideation. By bringing ideas together we could converge on possible features from each design through dot voting.

Design studio dot voting on the best features for the product updates page

One final stage of the development process was to come up a new name. Product Portal had left a sour taste in people’s mouths, so we thought it would be right to tweak the name a little. After an exercise involving stakeholders, marketers and brand directors, we decided on something not too abstract or dissimilar to the one that was already in place, but something that met the jobs that the new platform intended to do. Product Centre was born.

With the high fidelity wireframes complete and a name chosen, it was time to hand over to Vanessa (Web Designer) who used Webflow to bring the designs to life, building the Product Centre from scratch.

Solution

Working with cross-functional teams ensured we were able to deliver a solution that worked for everyone. Being a global company with offices around the world meant it’s important to acknowledge everyone, so when you land on the homepage of Product Centre, you’re greeted with a welcome message wherever you are. The content leads with the vision statement, the common goal all of Ve should be working towards.

Welcome page of Product Centre

Under the drop-down in the nav bar are links to information on all of the solutions. You can read the overview for a brief introduction, or deep-dive into the specifics.

Product information pages, with drop down side navigation

All future updates live in the Updates page. Product roundups give a snapshot into recent happenings, tags show the status of a release, filtering by solution allows for quicker access to relevant content, and a product roadmap provides transparency to where the company is heading.

A link to the blog, ‘Pride In Product’ gives you an insight into what the product team gets up to on a daily basis, and finally, to encourage open and consistent communication, a feedback section is included so employees and clients can suggest ways to improve.

Feedback

“Product Centre has become such a valuable tool to keep commercial staff updated on our go-to-market products and strategy” David Marrian-Hayes (CEO)
“Onboarding of new staff is much more seamless, everything is now in one place” Ian Pope (Senior HR Generalist)

Key statistics one month after launch

Product update CTR from emails — 46.7%

Internal user uptake — 96%

Active territories worldwide — 20

Average session duration — 3 minutes 59 seconds

Pages/Session — 3.85

Next steps

Following the success since launching Product Centre, we’re looking to release version 2 in the near future. This is scoped to include a freshly designed feedback form, an integrated blog and section on product processes.

Materials

To request the video demonstration or any presentation slide decks, please contact me on almomitchell@gmail.com